Can I say the following?

The doorbell rang. He had finished his meal.

I know I could join the sentences into one sentence to get the same meaning. I want to know if this would be correct if I write it this way? In this, the doorbell ringing comes after he finished his meal.


4 Answers 4


Correct. Nothing wrong with the way you have written it. Except I'd write "doorbell" as one word.

  • So, if I just write He had finished his meal. would it be grammatically incorrect and incomplete?
    – user963241
    Jun 18, 2012 at 16:08
  • 1
    @user963241, yes, "He had finished his meal" is a grammatically correct and complete sentence.
    – JAM
    Jun 18, 2012 at 16:17
  • Perfect aspect connects two times, that is what makes it perfect. "When the doorbell rang, he had finished his meal" is complete because we know that the meal was completed before the doorbell rang, but 'he had finished his meal' is incomplete as there is no time sequence. Jun 18, 2012 at 16:25
  • 1
    I don't know which one of the answers to accept. Could you give me a reference or link so I can confirm it for myself?
    – user963241
    Jun 18, 2012 at 17:03
  • 1
    It sounds wrong the way it currently stands, because the two times are really not very well connected yet. But you could say "The doorbell rang. He had finished his meal. He picked up his plate, opened the door, and flung what was left of his dinner into the face of a very surprised stranger." Jun 18, 2012 at 19:54

Correct probably isn't a helpful word in this context. There are three possibilities: The doorbell rang. He had finished his meal (1); The doorbell rang; he had finished his meal (2): and The doorbell rang after he had finished his meal (3) *. All three are grammatical, and express the same sequence of events, but the implications are subtly different. (1) implies no connection at all: The doorbell rang. The sun had gone down. At the Palace, the American President was making a speech. As such, it's probably bad style, unless you are simply setting the scene. (2) explicitly connects the ideas, and the reader would expect some explanation; perhaps he disliked interrupted meals, but was now prepared to answer the door. (3) emphasises the ring at the door, and puts it in a context.

That's the thing about English; there are usually several ways to put a sentence, but only one way to express your thought properly.

* Actually, there are many ways to rephrase it, but most of them boil down to one of the three.

  • Could you also add the example for how to implicitly connect the two sentences?
    – user963241
    Jun 18, 2012 at 20:19
  • I think that would be (2), but actually the two are not connected at present; (see Peter Shor's comment above). You need more explanation, either in the text or in your question. Jun 18, 2012 at 20:35

Yep, nothing wrong with that. It would probably more clear to merge it into one sentence, but it does work passably. You should try and use more descriptive titles by the way.


I would say not correct. The second sentence, "he had finished his meal", isn't really a complete sentence, in terms of being one coherent thought. It needs a time phrase such as "when the doorbell rang".

I know you have that, but putting a full-stop between them separates the ideas.

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